John Ash: Autonomous Sea Lion

Student's Name: 
John Ash
Advisor's Name: 
Gabriel Elkaim
Home University: 
PDF icon Ash_surfit12_report.pdf8.76 MB
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John was a Senior Computer Engineering student at UCSC when he took part in the SURF-IT program.  He had wanted to be involved in the Autonomous Systems Lab however was unable to find a good way to get started. SURF-IT gave him the opportunity to get involved in lab and gain a personal relationship with the professor Gabriel Elkaim. John now plans to continue his education into grad school. SURF-IT has given him a great jumping off point of what graduate schools are expecting.

The exploration of our planets oceans has led to discoveries in many fields, from meteorology to geology. Currently data is collected, from the oceans, in three different ways: manned large sea vessels, free floating buoys, and slow moving deep water gliders.  In the Autonomous Systems Lab at UCSC, Bryant Maires has been working on developing a small autonomous research vessel that can drive between different way-points, while collecting ocean data, including temperature, depth, wind. This data can be used by scientist in real time to make better calculations about when a hurricane is going to hit, or what the Salmon population will be like this year.

John worked with Bryant to make the boat more modular. This included creating a separate rudder subsystem. The system was designed to run on a small node which would read and transmit messages over the CAN bus on the boat. Many messages were created including messages to calibrate and move the rudder. To allow for testing of this rudder without the use of the boat a new rudder prototype box was created with which we could test the subsystem. Documentation was used to keep track of how the code for the subsystem was create this allowed for the project to be picked up easily by a new Masters Student, after the SURF-IT program.